Another major torrent search engine has decided that the value of a .COM URL is not worth the risk of having the domain seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
The owners of Kickass Torrents made an announcement to their user base at the end of March that the US-based .COM address would be going away in favor of a less risky .PH address based in the Philippines.
“It is not a secret that today everything related to torrents gets a lot of heat from various organizations,” reads the announcement on the KickassTorrents blog. “So for the safety of our users and to secure the work of KickassTorrents we will in time lose the .com address. For now it is more of an alternative and KickassTorrents.com will remain intact for some time, but we really recommend our users to switch to KickassTorrent.ph.”
The site joins the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker, Demonoid, and others in escaping the threat of a seized domain by moving control to another, more lenient country. The site owners are already keenly aware that they could be the next on the ICE chopping block because they have appeared on lists from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) labeling them as being “notorious for infringing activities.”
Since the US Department of Homeland Security began their Operation In Our Sites initiative last year, thousands of websites have been shut down without warning or due process because ICE investigations determined that illegal activity was taking place. Evidence in these cases, however, has been weak, and politicians like Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren have begun questioning the constitutionality of the actions.
Like Torrent-Finder, a BitTorrent search engine seized by the ICE in November, KickassTorrents hosts no infringing content on its own servers and claims to be DMCA compliant. As we’ve seen time and time again, this means nothing to the ICE officials conducting the investigations.
This just further illustrates that while the ICE domain seizures are provoking fear among those who are hosting domains with questionable content, it is not persuading them to cease operations as the MPAA claims.